Universal HD to Program Sundance Series

Jul 12, 2007  •  Post A Comment

The Sundance Channel is partnering with Universal HD, an NBC Universal channel that broadcasts movies, sporting events and television series in high-definition, to bring HD viewers a new weekly programming block.
On Wednesdays, beginning Aug. 1, Universal HD will air Sundance’s original series “Iconoclasts” and “Big Ideas for a Small Planet” as well as an exclusive acquisition, “Live From Abbey Road.” The three-hour HD program block also will include the one-minute interstitial high-def series “Ecoists,” which features “green” celebrities talking about their involvement in environmental causes.
“Sundance Channel speaks to a very educated, tech-savvy audience,” Sundance Channel President and CEO Larry Aidem said in a statement announcing the deal Tuesday. “Our viewers are early adopters of advanced technology, they are interested in HDTV, and this new branded block on Universal HD will now make our key original franchises available on HDTV.”
Microsoft will present the programming block, which is set to run through Dec. 26.
“Since we don’t broadcast in HD, this was an opportunity to show what we have,” said Laura Michalchyshyn, executive VP and general manager of programming and creative affairs for Sundance Channel. “Nothing is up-converted. Everything is shot in HD and delivered in HD.”
Ms. Michalchyshyn said the channel’s future HD plans are still to be determined, but it currently doesn’t have enough high-def content to launch its own HD channel.
When the programming block’s run ends in December, Sundance will evaluate the success of the endeavor and implement a strategy accordingly.
However, she said, Sundance has been in discussions with some of its carriers about the possibility of delivering its existing HD content on a video-on-demand basis.
“We realize we’re in a multi-HD-channel universe,” Ms. Michalchyshyn said. “Strategically one change we’re making is producing most of our original series in HD.”
Sundance is requesting the majority of the original series being commissioned for 2008 and 2009 be shot in high-def.
The channel wouldn’t comment on which series will be included, but confirmed that its behind-the-scenes special filmed live at the Sundance Film Festival will not be in HD.
“Content like that expires,” Ms. Michalchyshyn said, “so it doesn’t make business or economic sense to shoot in HD.”


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